Yes, I am a HUGE fan of Backstreet Boys, and FINALLY got a chance to listen to their whole album, and though I really don't love it, it's kinda grown on me now.
When the Backstreet Boys proclaimed in their 1997 hit “Everybody (Backstreet's Back)” that “as long as there'll be music, [they'll] be coming back again,” few took the line seriously. But twelve years later, you have to wonder how they managed to still be here when every other boyband have crashed and burned in the early 2000s. There's a simple explanation for that: the Backstreet Boys are simply the best in their category. After several worldwide hits that even my dad know the lyrics to, the Boys (or shall we say “men?”) are back with their seventh album This Is Us, a throwback to their dance-pop early years.
The first single, Straight Through My Heart, opens the album and is arguably the record's best track. As is usually the case with the Backstreet Boys' music, the chorus is infectious and it's easy to remember all the lyrics after only two to three listens.
The Backstreet Boys are reunited with old pal Max Martin (“I Want It That Way,” “As Long As You Love Me,” “Shape Of My Heart,” and the majority of pop hits during the late 90s) for the album's second single titled Bigger. It isn't really memorable at first listen but after two or three repeats, you almost feel like the Backstreet Boys of old are back.
The track, Bye Bye Love is obviously a ploy to stay in touch with today's music and frankly I was disappointed by its inclusion because even when boybands were popular, the Backstreet Boys always seemed to be one step ahead of their competition. When they came back in 2005, their new adult-contemporary sound was refreshing. With Bye Bye Love, it feels like they're following the trend instead of setting it.
All Your Life (You Need Love) is probably the closest thing to their 90s sound but upgraded for today's audience. After listening to this song, I couldn't help but go back and listen to all their up-tempo tracks from from their first and second albums.
If I Knew Then has a similar sound to All Your Life but the former is much slower.
This Is Us is a ballad co-written by Howie Dorough and produced by Jim Jonsin. Here again, the boys shine vocally, making This Is Us a good track but nothing extraordinary. Though, I would have to say, I really love slow songs the boys sing, and this one just adds to their already amazing collection of ballads.
PDA is probably the album's weakest track. It feels as though the boys are trying too hard to fit into the “urban” mold.
Masquerade is another high-tempo dance track with an easily memorable chorus. Similar to All Your Life, Masquerade feels like one of their vintage tracks albeit with a modern beat.
She's A Dream is the only song written by all group members. I honestly don't know what to think of this track. On the one hand, the boys all sound great on it and the beat is quiet enough to let their voices and melody shine through. On the other hand, the blatant use of Auto-Tune on the bridge turned me off big-time.
Shattered, a piano-driven ballad and is the only song to carry the same sound from Unbreakable, their 2007 release.
The album concludes with Undone, another ballad. The song felt like something Justin Timberlake would release. As a matter of fact, it sounded a bit like a poor man's version of “What Goes Around...” only slower.
In the end, I am heavily disappointed with this album. It grows on you the more you listen it but I still feel like something's missing. It's trying too much to please to today's audience. It's not a bad thing mind you, but I thought they were on a great path musically with Never Gone and Unbreakable. Now, it seems like they went for sales instead of quality. Thankfully, the fact that they're good vocalists saves this album from being a Chris Brown/Ne-Yo/Justin Timberlake rehash. Will the die-hard fans love it? Absolutely. But I can't help but feel that we wanted a piece of the New Kids On The Block's “successful” comeback. This Is Us gets a 3.75/5 from me. Great vocals, nice beats, but no creativity.
Sometimes I take a carton of eggs out of the fridge, and look at it and think that maybe one day I'll crack an egg and a little baby chicken will fall out, and then I'll wash him off and raise him indoors...and then...maybe, just maybe I'll have a friend.